I love articles like the one below, in which Yale professor John Barge conducted an ‘experiment’ in which he claims to be able to train conservatives to be liberal. Never mind that the ‘experiment’ was not in any way scientific – what is truly telling is that the professor starts with the position that conservativism is like a disease that can be cured. The base assumption is that conservativism is false, and liberalism is true, making the entire argument circular. Here is John Barge’s article, just in case anyone wants to read it:
Mr. Barge actually goes even further than making a circular argument. He says that conservatives are conservative because they are afraid of those who are not like them, and that if we can only make conservatives feel safe from ‘the other,’ conservatives will suddenly become liberal. To this professor, conservatives are not for limited government, for legal immigration, or for anything else, but are simply racists who are afraid of those who do not look like them. The professor’s argument is not only circular, but it is also a straw man, and an ad hominem one at that.
How clever it is to create a circular ad hominem straw man argument! One more logical fallacy, and the professor would have won a free toaster from The Daily Libertarian. We at The Daily Libertarian like to give free toasters to the champions of logical fallacies, and John Barge has proven himself quite worthy.
You’ll see tactics like this on the left all the time. Whereas conservatives generally make factual, logical arguments when we claim to be correct (or at least the smart ones do), liberals simply assume that they are correct and that anyone who does not agree with them has something wrong with them. They do not try to debate conservatives honestly, but dismiss conservativism out of hand as something people can be cured of.
To liberals, conservatives speak in ‘code words,’ and those code words are ‘dog whistles’ for racism. If anyone who is a conservative knows of any such dog whistles or code words, please leave them in the comments. As far as I can tell, only liberals know what these code words are. Luckily for us conservatives, liberals are happy to provide us their lists, such as this one.
I once heard a CNN analyst call the word ‘apartment’ a code word for racism. How convenient it must be to be able to dismiss anything a conservative says if they happen to use any word someone might want to call a ‘dog whistle’ or a ‘code word’ for racism. How convenient it must be to be able to dismiss any argument out of hand because of a word…
Another common liberal debate tactic is to find something – anything – that a conservative might be wrong about, and to use that to discredit the conservative. The first edition of John Lott’s book, “More Guns, Less Crime” had a small number of minor errors liberals eventually found. John Lott acknowledged the errors and corrected them in subsequent editions of his book. The errors did not affect Lott’s findings in any way, and yet because there were errors, any time a conservative mentions John Lott, or references his extensive research, liberals will say, “Oh – that’s John Lott. He’s been thoroughly discredited.” They say the same thing about Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Milton Friedman, and any other conservative researcher. I have yet to see a liberal engage in a discussion of why or how these people are discredited. Liberals simply ignore them.
Perhaps the worst liberal debate tactic is the anti-science tactic. Liberals are by and large agnostic or atheist, whereas most Christians are conservative. Liberals will say that conservatives believe in a ‘sky-god,’ and use this as proof that we are anti-science. When debating such things as how significant man’s effect on climate change is, no matter how scientific the evidence a conservative uses may be, liberals start with the belief that the sky is falling, and call anything that says otherwise ‘anti-science’. In doing so, liberals can ignore such pesky things as the fact that arctic ice is expanding rather than contracting, or that c02 levels tend to follow temperature changes rather than leading them.
Similar to the anti-science argument is the fake news argument. To the liberal, any news they like is valid, no matter what actual facts may say, and anything they do not like is ‘fake news’. As such, if the conservative shows a news article that supports a conservative position, it is immediately called ‘fake news’, and dismissed. If the conservative challenges the attempt to dismiss their news, the conservative is dismisses as well for not knowing how to spot ‘fake news.’ Just in case you are curious, I can tell you how to spot fake news: anything that says anything with which most liberals disagree is automatically considered fake.
The scariest part of this ‘conservativism is a pathology’ belief is that it begs a ‘re-education’ solution. The Soviet Union used gulags to ‘re-educate’ their conservatives, and twenty million people died. Mao was more brutal, killing at least 100 million of his own people, in his attempt to ‘educate’ them into the correct way of thinking. How many people would John Barge kill in his quest to ‘educate’ people away from truth?
The greatest irony of liberalism’s circular logic is that truth is not on their side, and I think deep down inside, most of them know it. I run into the occasional liberal who truly believes in liberalism, and who will engage in an actual debate. The true believers are usually extremely intelligent, but rather than using their intelligence to find and follow truth, they use their intelligence to do mental gymnastics around the truth. Venezuela, they will say, is not falling apart because of socialism, but because the United States worked with the corporations in Venezuela to throttle the economy (and oil prices fell). The truth is that the Venezuelan government decided to tax production to the point where it made no sense to produce, and their corporations shut down to avoid losing money, but the true believer can’t accept that.
Going back to the John Barge’s ‘study’, his goal was not to explain why conservatives are conservative, but to give liberals reasons not to like conservatives. Painting conservativism as nothing more than fear-based-racism also paints conservatives as fear based racists. It is easy to hate racists, and easy to dismiss fear. The fact that conservatives want everyone to be treated equally under the law does not dissuade liberals from calling conservatives racists, and nor does the fact that modern liberalism is built on identity politics and victimhood. There is no fascination with race on the right. Most conservatives don’t care about race at all.
We cannot have a rational political discussion when we have no common ground, and sadly, liberalism’s new found love of postmodernism has separated them from reality, allowing them to believe whatever they like, and to dismiss facts that don’t fit as being ‘fake’. Emotions count more than facts on the left, which is why you see so many YouTube videos of college students saying, “I feel,” followed by what sounds like a factual statement. Rational people do not feel facts. Rational people study facts, and try to learn from them. Someone who claims to ‘feel’ a fact is openly admitting that they are using emotion in place of reason, and by extension admitting that they have no idea whether the ‘fact’ they ‘feel’ has any resemblance to the truth.
Consider how dangerous it is to have our universities, in the English departments and the humanities, openly ‘teaching’ students to feel rather than think, and to listen to emotion rather than reason. We are creating a generation of anti-science, anti-America bigots. We are teaching our children that racism is not racism, that sexism is not sexism, and that it is patriotic to hate everything our country has ever done, or stood for. More than that, we are teaching our children to ignore any facts that show them they are wrong. In the name of ‘education’, we are denying these children the chance to learn, and in the name of ‘diversity,’ we are teaching them to hate anyone who is different than they are, unless of course they happen to be in the majority, in which case we are teaching them to hate themselves. We are not teaching our children how to build a better nation. We are only teaching them how to destroy.
People like John Barge should not be professors. John Barge should lose his job for publishing his ‘study’ in the Washington Post, and the Washington Post’s credibility should suffer a great deal for posting such nonsense. Sadly, those on the left will eat John Barge’s article up, and use it to continue to justify their war on the truth.
Oh – and just in case John Barge reads this.. You actually did have enough logical fallacies – I just did not mention all of them. You are now officially The Daily Libertarian’s Logical Fallacy Champion, and if you send me your address, I’ll send your free toaster.